A walker passes Lincoln Pharmacy in Millvale. Photo Kate Buckley.

Over the past four years, the Borough of Millvale has benefited from changes initiated by the Ecodistrict Pivot Plan, a set of guidelines focused on improving the town’s sustainability and economic growth. Now the community and its partners are taking on the next stage of the plan.

Millvale recently put into effect Ecodistrict Pivot 2.0, which outlines new ways of addressing issues affecting the struggling community. The plan combines input contributed by over 90 residents and stakeholders, who decided which areas the latest phase would concentrate on.

To further the impact of Pivot 2.0, the plan’s main collaborators recently traveled to Portland, OR for the EcoDistrict Incubator Program, a three-day intensive designed to accelerate EcoDistrict-modeled projects across North America. The team included representatives from the Millvale Community Development Corporation and the Millvale Community Library, as well as the nonprofit New Sun Rising.

Also present was Christine Mondor of evolveEA, a Pittsburgh-based architecture and consulting firm that has overseen the Millvale Ecodistrict plan from the beginning. She believes the EcoDistrict Incubator Program offered a unique opportunity for them to learn from organizations and communities facing similar challenges.

“We were joined by teams from Cincinnati, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit and other cities,” says Mondor, who serves as the principal of evolveEA and as the head of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission. “It was interesting to hear that issues of equitable development, inclusiveness and environmental performance are common, despite our differences in geography and size. The team made significant progress in the work plan and is a part of a larger conversation.”

Mondor says Pivot 2.0 was able to use the momentum from successes achieved during the first plan, including the installation of solar panels on the Millvale Community Library and the upcoming launch of New Sun Rising’s cafe and entrepreneurship incubator, Food Hub. It also looked at ways the borough could tackle its long-standing problems with flooding caused by development around the nearby Girty’s Run watershed.

The second stage includes expanded goals for the original plan’s three key areas, as well as a broader focus that addresses issues like equity, transportation and ecology. As Mondor explains, Pivot 2.0 will delve into monitoring and improving Millvale’s air quality. It will also identify opportunities for large-scale projects, such as the creation of a multi-use River District that “connects Millvale to the Allegheny, ensures affordable and accessible housing and invites community serving businesses to town.”

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...